Thursday, July 22, 2010

North calling

I have dreamed of going to Nunavut, stepping out onto that mysterious land, barren and isolated and totally foreign to anything I've yet seen. A land so cold, it's almost uninhabitable. An ancient land, with an ancient culture and ancient peoples. It's the newest Canadian province, but the Inuit have been living there for centuries, long before any of us or our ancestors ever set foot in this vast country.

Baffin Island in particular calls my name.
There are people living in the tiny villages on this island who were born in igloos and hunted seals and fish to eat their dinner, and now live with cable TV, highspeed internet and Fast food. It baffles me that these things can reach even the most remote corners of the world.

I'm not sure exactly what it is that calls to me, and surely it's partly my romanticizing of the idea of the North. Cold. Foreign. Isolated. Far away. Something many artists/art spirits like me long for. It's also the culture, the legends. Living off the land. Hunting seals and eating their meat raw. Even though I like the idea, I'm sure if I was faced with the need to kill a seal in order to eat my dinner, I would not be capable.

But, also, that no longer exists. These people do not live off the land anymore. Their land is melting. The glaciers are melting. The icebergs are melting. and this is a terrifying thought to me.

Imagine standing on metres of ice, knowing they are melting away, flowing down, filling the oceans and lakes. What will happen when all the glaciers have melted? What will life be like then? for these people, and also for us.

This reflection was brought on by my watching part of Billy Conolly's "Journey to the Edge of the Earth" last night. This was a TV series that spawned such interest they published it into a book. The book has more gritty detail you get in reading, while the TV series shows you through the moving image exactly what he saw. Conolly is a comedian yet he sees this land with realism, with a real open sadness too. Very interesting and a good way to cast aside all our romantic ideas about the natives and the north.

I hope I get there before it's all melted away.

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